First Hundred Years: Helen Willett
The First Hundred Years project celebrates the past to shape the future for women in law. The year 2019 marks the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which paved the way for women to become lawyers.
To mark the occasion, Coodes is putting the spotlight on some of its team members to learn more about their experience in the legal profession.
Helen Willett, Partner and Commercial Property specialist, answers a few questions about her career to date.
1. When and why did you decide to become a lawyer?
It was in 1987 after a degree in Chemistry and Philosophy of Science. I just couldn’t see myself working in an industrial lab or being an accountant.
2. What drives you in your role?
I like the mix of technical detail and commercial deal making. I can advise the client what the legal position is but ultimately it is for the client to decide to take or ignore advice.
3. What do you like about working for Coodes?
It’s a very friendly firm, well embedded in the community.
4. What is your proudest moment (personal or professional)?
It was definitely when I was first made up to partner at SJ Berwin, a 140-partner international city practice. The country was in the middle of a recession and there had been very few partner promotions for several years.
5. What changes have you seen during your career that have affected female lawyers?
When I started work we weren’t allowed to wear trousers or culottes in the office. Just skirt suit and blouse.
6. What advice would you give to a young woman considering a legal career?
Go for it.
Helen Willett is a Partner in Coodes Solicitors’ Commercial Property team.